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My Old Ration Book from WW2


I still have my old Ration book, mother who was in charge of all our ration books had saved it from when rationing finished in 1953-4 and returned it back to me a few years before she died.   


The Staples are going rusty, but its all complete as it was when rationing finished in 1953/1954

Coupons had to be cut out with a pair of scissors on the relevant page by the shop keeper, and he had a rubber stamp to say which shop you had been to.  In my book the top stamp was the butchers, all other headed items came from the Co-op

The nearest thing to a super market back then was the local Co-op which always seemed to have the greatest range of goods on its shelves, and an assistant had to find and bring all items to the counter for you. Here the items were totted up with a pencil written on the wrapping paper used for your goods. The old tills flagged up the total that the assistant put in the till and when the cash draw sprang open with great haste it rang a bell, paper money went under over centred spring clasps and farthing’s, half pennies, pennies, thrupeny pieces, six penny pieces, shillings often called a bob, florins a two bob piece, and half-crowns worth thirty old pence, all went in separate compartments in the same draw, these were added up into pounds shillings and pence £. s. d.  No adding machines, no computers, just a pencil (not even ball point pens, they had not been invent back then) and paper

 In the most part of rationing we were self-sufficient in bacon and frying fats, beef and beef suet had to be bought in, eggs, we always had a lot of hens, and always had so called chicken for dinner at least once a week every week. In fact it would be old hen, you know there was always one or two out of a couple or three hundred, that looked a bit pale in the wattle and not laying, or got a chalky *** end, they were never allowed to die, mother could see the ones that just stared looking that way then she would ‘neck’ them and in the pot without even going cold.  I dunt know how come the egg coupons had been removed from my book, but she was in control of all the ration books.

Shop keepers rubber stamp

Unused sweet coupons on the right hand page

 I can hardly remember having sweets as a kid, not that they were never bought, I never craved for sweets or chocolate, but I can recall a time in my very young days being encouraged, nay forced to eat a square of dark chocolate.

This put me off chocolate and sweets for life, it’s only in recent years (fifty years down the line) that I have become partial some now and then and quite enjoy the taste. The reason for the dark chocolate was, and we each had to have a square, was that it was for worms, we had worms, itchy bums, could not sit still, and like mothers do she up turned us to have a closer look to confirm her suspicions.

She went to the Boots chemists next time she was in town, (she went every Tuesday and Friday) and asked the pharmacy what to have to clear the problem up. It was a bar of dark chocolate all in a Chocolate wrapper as would any other chocolate, and that night before we went to bed, for a treat she gave each of us a square of this chocolate, one at a time, and without the others seeing the reactions of the first one. It was strong and dark, nothing like the milk chocolate we had been used to, and she had to make sure we chewed and swallowed it without spitting it back out.  The taste lingered in ya mouth what seemed ta be all night and that put me off chocolate for life. I suspect the remaining squares of chocolate would not be saved until Christmas and handed round to the relatives, or used up by the all-knowing adults of the house hold.

To the credit of that incident, I still have all my teeth, and only go to the dentist for them to be counted and polished every six months or so, and that is because when I had two new knee replacement’s the surgeon instructed me to get my teeth checked before the operation, as a rotten tooth could make the replacement knee joint to reject and in that way could lose my leg.

You can read that story in full here

And the dentist blog here

What are you like on your farm for regular mealtime breaks


What are you like on your farm for regular mealtime breaks, the morning start and knockoff times. We were brought up as kids to all sitting down at regular times every day to eat together.

It was (and still is though I don't milk now) a 6.30 am start, that was dictated by the fact the churn milk collection lorry arrived in the village at 8am promptly and the milk had got to cooled and labeled by that time.

We were the fifth pickup and it was around 8.20am by the time he got round to us, we all, that is the cowman and the tractor driver who carried the milk and fed the calves went for there's as well. Father had his pigs to feed and clean out, us kids had hens ducks and geese to look after, and back at work again in half an hour, or school for us.

In the next village their milk wagon collect the milk about 10.30am, and they did not start milking until 8 o'clock, with a lunch time of 1.30pm, whereas our lunch break was always mid day for one hour, with milking at 3.30pm and all finished and fed by 5.30pm. In the next village it would be a 7.30pm finish.

Our time routine was more convenient particularly when the threshing machine came, he liked to fire up his outfit a 9am promptly with a 12.00 to 1.00pm break and finished at 5pm. The threshing outfit went from farm to farm up the village and a man was "borrowed" from each farm to make up the gang of nine needed for that job. Every one was on the same time routine and it worked out well.

Even now some seventy or so years later, I have kept to that same time routine. I can arrive in the house at meal times with the table ready laid, the Misses likes it, it gives her a regular routine knowing exactly when to expect us.

When I started farming on my own at Church Farm, we had the church tower and the church clock looking down at us all day from about a hundred yards distance with the chimes every quarter hour and gongs for the hour.

When we were at the distant field working we had the railway run through both The Beeches farm fields and the Church Farm fields, and between 3.15pm and 3.30 there would but three express steam engines flying through at full sped, the "Flying Scotsman", the "Caledonian" and another named train. ( It was said by the railway men that they had to clear that track of slower local trains at 3pm to allow these three train to go though at full chat)  That was the time we went to take the cows down for milking.

 I might add here that the gang of six lengths men who maintained the two mile stretch of line, (four lines, two up to London, two down to Scotland, I could never understand that.) would jump over into the corn field at harvest time and help stook the shoffs of corn when we were bindering, (wheat or oats) and two church bells later (14 days) would help load the farm wagons. Also at this time there was a goods engine driver who would slow right down by those fields and get his fire man to roll big lumps of coal off the tender for father to collect them later with the farm cart. They were all in the home guard together, and contraband got exchanged there every week, farther taking mainly potatoes and for the engine driver a half a pig, it was transported under the local bobbies nose by the wheelwright in a coffin. but thats another story

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Segal's Law.

        Same blog with a couple of pictures here

The Farm Sale

No I am not having a farm sale here, but a couple of years ago a neighbouring farm sold up and I sent quite a few items up to be sold back then. Now another neighbour is having a dispersal sale and again I am contributing some more of my deadstock, to be sold at his sale this spring. (2014).

I have been selling off items of machinery privately over the last three years as and when a buyer came up, but you get down to the last few thing that could still be worth selling for further use. I have been  scrapping all that what I call "useful reuseable metal", you know, the sort of metal that you can make or mend stuff with, but its got to go at some point in time.

 Everything is on a priority list, and I keep gleaning through my workshop scrap heap, some of my tools are the old Whitworth and AF spanners, but I fear they are getting frightfully close to going to the crusher. An old brushing hook kept for trimming nettles and briars off the electric fence, I doubt if the younger generation have ever heard  of  or would know what it is, and that was the way we cut all the hedges not fifty years ago. 


An old scythe, when you see them using them on the television programs, it make you cringe at the mess they are making. not a clue how to use or sharpen it. The old men, before they had lawn mowers would be cutting the lawns around these stately homes, not as short I grant you, but it was always a very tidy job. 

The last serious job I remember with scythes was to cut a "road" round the corn fields (wheat barley and oats, for those way over the pond). It was absolute sacrilege to run a wheel, or run corn down with wheels back then before the days of the combine. A few days before we were ready for bindering, two gangs of three would head one each way round the outside of the fields of corn, one scything, two picking up the crop into bundles and tying them with what we called a bonce of straw, no string. It was just wide enough for the old Standard Fordson to travel pulling the binder for the first time round.    

You just get carried away, just thinking back on how we managed, setting too with a two furrow plough in a fifteen or twenty acre field in winter with no cab, but that just another tale for another day.



 I just wish it was as easy and simple as I make it sound in the verse I writ a couple of years ago,

 --see below   

The Farm Sale

The years have come the years have gone, its time to sell the lot,

And now I've got to organize, the sale of all I've got,

To pull it out the sheds and then, n’ lay it out in rows,

For all and everyone who comes, to have a dam good nose.

The tools and all machinery, bought it years ago,

Ploughed the land and worked it, encouraged crops to grow,

Harrowed all the grass in spring, soon as the Daff’s appear,

Cattle would be turned out, and sold that big fat steer.

Job to know where to start, and find things long forgotten,

Things we used like brushing hooks, n’ pitch forks stale gone rotten,

Shovels spades and muck forks, all standing where last used,

Some I've had a long time, and some they were abused.

Workshop that’s a nightmare, the scrap ruck will increase,

Wading through the junk to find, that lost now found tailpiece

All the things you save as spares, but things move on apace,

Out dated now and far too small, with newer one replaced.

The tractor that’s seen better days, reliable it has been,

Well used and got a loader on, could do with a dam good clean,

Worked it hard all day long, every day of the year,

Last day now it has arrived, and to the field must steer.

A second one it’s older still, with a draughty cab,

Tyres worn and torn about, n’ the paints a little drab.

Steering wobbles brakes no good, useful to have about,

Its winter when it wonner start, I have a dam good shout.

Be sorry to see an empty yard, and all the cleaned out sheds,

The damp old house abandoned, and empty old farmstead,

Silence now for few a weeks, until new folk move in,

Then once again start from new, new livestock make a din.

Owd Fred

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

Booker T. Washington  (1856 - 1915)

There are a couple of pictures that should be with this blog, conna get the up on this site, but they are on here,

A job well done (If you try harder)


Over my lifetime there are not many jobs that I have not tackled, and as with every job, the more you do of that particular job the better you get at it.


On the domestic side

Take hair dressing for example, not that far fetched from sheep shearing, or cattle clipping, when we were kids (four of us lads), father used to cut our hair with clippers that he had to squeeze with his hand to operate the blade.

The problem was when he was in a hurry, which he often was, he would push the clipper up the back of ya neck faster than what he was operating the blade, the result was he was pulling our hair by the roots. He did make a good tidy job, and many compared it with how he thatched his ricks of hay and corn, combed down to the eves and clipped up the sides.


On the workshop side

Take welding, unless you get a bit of tuition, and then get plenty of time to put into practice what you have just learnt, its no use. In my case it’s a matter of tapping the rod onto the metal until you get a spark, then keep melting the rod into the joint. In reality, the rod more often than not gets stuck and welded to the job. After a     vigorous twisting and pulling it bleaks free, peeling and cracking the coating off the rod making it impossible to strike an arc to get going again.  Must admit, my welding has been called and likened to pigeon *** welding. So I get by on doing repairs that are not too crucial or to essential, just bog standard welding.

I’ll never be a “sparkie”

All things electrical are very mystical to me, as soon as a wire disappears into a wall, it come out a different colour at the other end. Two way light switches, for example, they beat me every time,  its okay to fit a new bulb holder, or new three pin plug and simple thing like that.

Another thing that is always awkward for me that does not crop up very often is the trailer light sockets and plugs, with , is it seven or nine wires to connected in to  correspond to what the vehicle wires want to convey.  Wiring looms, alternators, and the back or the inside of  a vehicle dash boards are way beyond my comprehension,  Fuses I can manage, but on the modern tractor there can be thirty or more, thank goodness for the instruction book, it lists and numbers them and what strength of fuse to use.


I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody

Bill Cosby (1937)


Jack of all Trades Master of None

Farm jobs you would not believe take place

On the farm you build up skills far beyond what you can imagine a farmer would normally be expected to do.

Living out in the country you tend to become an emergency doctor (to stem a vigorous flow of blood), nurse (patch it up), vet surgeon (castrate, dehorn inject), executioner (occasionally a animal or bird needs to be put down), undertaker (and buried), on occasions pathologist (why it died), investigator (what caused it), policeman (who caused it), poacher (if you can’t beat them join them) , curator (show folk what we do), escapologist (get out of a hole that you’ve just jumped in, to escape a creditor or the taxman), and environmental wildlife conservationist (drive round the peewit nests instead of driving over them) and many more peripheral jobs that crop up when there’s no one else about to help.  

I know I jest about some of the jobs we do and how we do them, but they all crop up at some time or other, and you deal with them how you know best, its all about survival, and helping others.

 Do unto them as you would like them to do for you.


 The Work it Wonna goo Away


When ya know youve got to work, and it wunna go away,

Put ya back into ya work, and ya hope its gonna pay,

You’re are the owner and the boss, and the only worker too,

The hours dunna matter, cuz ya work the night right through.


Ya worry bout the bills, and wonder how ya gonna pay,

The bills that come so regular, n’ put them out the way,

Till ya sell and get some money, it’s so hard to save at all,

As if a hole in ya pocket, n’ its empty every time I call.


Ya look back upon ya dreams, of how it all should have been

To build up on the business, and the forecast now unseen,

Expansion every year, and just getting in your stride,

N’ the tax man catches up with you, skins you of your hide.


Countryman  (Owd Fred)




Because of my blog

Because of my blog, which started in August 2008, started me writing things down as they came to mind, all about my life and my family and village, and the folk who helped to rear me (as well as other than my parents,) and mould my life within a small village community


On looking back cannot believe the number of blogs written, and found that the older folk over here in UK are the ones most likely to be interested in what I've writ, but unfortunately most of the older generation don't have a computer. (Two of my brothers included)

So I started to print off odd blogs and send them a copy to read by "snail mail" (that’s the UK postal service). Then stared to put them into book form, and eventually found I had filled enough to fill over two hundred pages four times, (four volumes).


The debate then came to finding a title for the book/s and with the picture of our stack yard in the back ground and the hay barn almost full of hay (see picture)  on the cover, the first suggestion was "Fifty Bales Of Hay" which I thought was absolutely brilliant .


 It must have been a tongue in cheek suggestion, (by one of my learned tutors) so I proceeded to print off a couple of front covers to show the younger generation in my family


Me/I having lived a very sheltered life had never heard of a book called "Fifty Shades Of Grey"  this was very quickly pointed out by my family, that I had been thrown a "red herring"  and took the bait hook line and sinker`.


Apparently the "Shades Of Grey" book is of a lurid and sexual nature, and the "Fifty Bales of Hay" spoof I had been fed, and was told it would sell like hot cakes on the internet. 


I was reprimanded about my alleged ignorance (by our two daughters) and the two printed cover were hastily shredded, so the preferred title now is settle down to "The Longest Furrow" 


I have a printer that collates (if that's the right word) the pages and I have a press that hold six books at a time, while I glue the pages and a guillotine to trim the finished books. So I write, print, publish, and sell my own books, about two hundred so far, the proceeds of which go to our preferred charity "Headways North Staffs"  it goes to help people who have suffered severe head injuries.

My next leaning curve is to get them published on line, and am being advised as to how to

tackle this and what soft ware is needed.

The Longest Swath


The attached picture is a copy of the front and back cover of the book, (the colour reproduction on that attachment is poor) but it gives you an idea of what I'm going.


This is one of my first blogs 



The Longest Furrow

The longest swath or the longest furrow is always the one round the outside of the field.
I seem to walk and work about the farm these days in a reflective daze, half looking back, and half looking forward, with every thing starting to overtake my way of working. - - - - - -

Looking now we don't have the same labour force, but is it so hard to cut that last back swath of hay/silage right up to the ditch or plough that last furrow and plough out the corners properly.- - - - - - -

Thrift was the by word then, and we seem to have lost that word from the modern day vocabulary, it's become a throw away society now, nothing is repaired, if it don't work chuck it, and get a new one. - - - - - -

Full story here

About time to retire.
With mid seventies looming up, and near ten years beyond where most folk have retired we have now found a house to retire to next door but two from the farm, (if you count the local pub as a house,) which over looks some of the fields we now farm.
It will be a tremendous down sizing of all house hold items, and can envisage a huge bonfire in the back garden of large old fashioned furniture that has been so lovingly cared for all the years we have lived here.-----------read on

No more having to open six or eight sets of curtains every morning, and from the bed to the bathroom and then down to the kettle in the kitchen is quite literally a sixty yards (or paces, I did count them) trek before ya get ya first cup of tea.--------------read on

After being used to waking on a winters morning to a hard frost, with frost on the inside of the widows, this will be a sauna, but I can well do without the damp these days, it gets into ya bones, so on that count alone it will be nice to move to a smaller and warmer house, even if we’ve been a bit late getting to it.

 To read the whole blog click here

Oh How We Love the Land,

Its now (2012) been fifty three years since I started farming at the age of twenty one. At that time, and fresh out of Farm College you are prickling with enthusiasm to bring in the latest ideas and the new ways of working.

In hindsight its always a bit rash to commit to new ideas before they have been proven, so it was my fathers frowns and disapproval that tempered my enthusiasm at some of the thing I wanted to try out.

Read the whole blog here

A glance back 50 years to 1962

Just a look back in my own farm diary of 1962 reveals how farming had just started to recover after the war time restrictions. Machinery inventions and innovations had helped with the shortage of man power, seeing a revolutionary turning point in farming.


In January 1962 we were threshing shoffs of corn out of the stackyard that had been bindered at harvest time (August 1961) just the same as it had been done for almost fifty or more years before that. Then in September 1962 we had a combine in to harvest the wheat and oats, the grain of which was bagged and the sacks slide off the combine onto the ground for carting before it rained. 

Full story here ---

Calving time for the Suckler Cows12 April 2012
Yesterday we had an incalf heifer looking as if she was ready to start to calve and she was looking around where to calve, just in the late evening.
Two hours later and just going dark, her water had broken and she had got two calves with her, but they looked remarkably dry and well licked from the distance. She had if fact taken to two other young calves that were only a day or so old and keeping them close to her. The danger here was that when she eventually had her own calf she may follow one or both of the calves she had “adopted” and forsake her own calf.
Follow the whole story here ---
War Time Horses
I watched a program about War Horses the other night, only to realise how many were taken from this country and North America to work abroad during the First World War.
What an important role they played in the transportation of supplies out to the front line in the most horrific conditions.
During the Second World War horses were still in short supply but possibly for a very different reason.
Our Single Farm Payment form is a stickler

 Our Government seems to "Gold Plate" every last rule no matter how petty and small, where as the same rules in France are far more relaxed. For example, all cattle have to have two ear tags, if you’re unlucky enough to have been chosen for an inspection, and if they find a beast with one tag missing you stand to have your entire SFP stopped or percentage deduction.

More on this story here

Not so many bulls about farms
Not so many bulls about farms these days, particularly the dairy herds. Before the advent of Artificial Insemination, you often reared a bull calf out of one of your own best cows, the resultant heifers coming into your herd and completing their first lactation, would be very hit and miss. It was not uncommon to see cows with curled up toes and long pendulous udders often having front teats pointing east west.  Also you had three more years of calves on the way before the bull had been proven. 
My own Experience with Suspected Big cats in UK
Big cats in UK. The discussion has come around again, about whether there are big “big cats” loose around UK. There has never been one found dead or died, but then you never seem to find dead deer or dead badgers other than road kill.

My own experience in 1992 in a field of twenty five eighteen month old store cattle standing in the middle of a sixteen acre field one frosty morning. They were just standing in the centre of the field in a tight huddle at first light, and from the distance the steam was rising off them in the still morning air.

Full story here

All the Machinery has taken a wobble at the same time
We seem to have run into a period in life when all the machinery seems to have taken a wobble at the same time and cannot shake it off. All attempts to put thing right have been thwarted and mechanics who are working on them cannot just put their finger on the particular problem.
Take the Agrotron tractor for instance, for a long while it had difficulty in drawing its fuel from its own fuel tank, while working its was no trouble but left over night and its fuel in the tank low, you would have to wind the engine for a little while until it had pumped its fuel back up to the engine. 
The two tractors, the Landrover Discovery, and the chainsaw, the whole story here



Farmer & Stock Breeder year book and desk diary Christmas 1961
Its not every Christmas that its as cold as last year 2010, when we had sustained cold and frost for some six weeks along with more snow than we had had for years.
Looking back in the diary just fifty years ago we had a very frosty spell over the run up to that Christmas 1961, we had turkeys to kill pluck and dress.
That year we had ordered a hundred poults, and as per usual we were sent one hundred and ten, and with a bit of luck we had actually sold just about a hundred finished birds come December. The whole story here --

Year End Blog 2011
Here is a brief summery of activities of happenings around the farm and the blogs 2011. Not enough room to do it diary fashion day by day so here goes.
I was asked “which is your favourite blog” the answer was,-- The Longest Swath, and I was honoured to have it published on the Farm-n-Wife web sitesite in the middle of the Mid-west USA.   with the Badge 'Featured Farmer of the week' .
What we were doing 50 years ago this day 27.11.1961


Just been looking back in the old farm diary on what we were doing just fifty years
ago today

This was the nearest they had to a cattle crush, and note the cattle, young stock all had horns, the cows would be tied up in the cowsheds by the chain. There are a few horses in the back ground.
Read more and more pictures,
A Farmers Gardening Blog

Gardening as a Pastime(with tractors always in the picture)

Many potential gardeners who work, and travel some distance to and from work, just physically do not have much time to do what they would like to do in the garden.

Then there is the people who just cannot stand gardening, like a neighbour we had in the village, (the wheelwright), his wife loved her garden, and he was committed to mowing the lawns front and back, and always commented to who ever would listen, that his garden should be tarmac end to end, side to side, then each spring he could just sweep it off and paint it green.

Read more and see the pictures here

Cheese and Mustard (1940’s)



Every now and then, in the pantry the last lump of cheese would be going dry and crumbly, but it was still all used, very very rare for good food to be wasted back then.


 I’m not talking about the fiddly bits of cheese you see in the shops and super markets these days all fancy wrapped and stamped with a sell by date. This was a real wedge off a whole round block of Cheshire and Cheddar Cheese, probably fifteen or twenty times the size mentioned above.


Read on

Carting & cutting Kale 65 years ago with the cowman
This was tale about what happened to my brother and I when I was 9 years old and my brother just over 6years . I was just old enough to work helping the then cowman Philip to load kale for the cows, a job he did every afternoon ready for the following days feeding.

Philip had a tremendous scramble to get us out, I know I was first out and standing by on my own in a daze, and after a short while my younger brother Robert emerged all muddy an shaken.

 read on here
That Unsettled Feeling
Occasionally in life you get the uneasy and unsettled feeling when you’re unsure of the future and not certain as to which way life is taking you, well I got that feeling this last few months.
Looking back over the years I got it when I first started school, then at eleven when we went to the big school in town, but that was soon over come within a few days when you got to know your way around.
The next time was when I got married and got my own house when I set up on my own farm (tenanted farm), then every now and then when things did not go how you would like, like loosing a calf or even worse loosing cow. I was always reminded by my father that “Where you have livestock, you have dead stock”.

Some of these feeling pass quickly, gone in a few days, other times they last for weeks and weeks or so it seems until you get used to the new situation. When in one of these periods I find it hard to concentrate enough to even write a blog, so I thought I would write a blog about this subject to see how many other folk have the same unsettled feelings and how they get through them.

Perhaps I better start to reveal what is causing my unsettled feeling,  
 Find what those unsettled feelings are all about on
 no pictures, the reason will all become clear. 
An unwelcome brush with the Law
A Sunday morning brush with the Law
One Sunday morning ten years ago I was taking a load of rotted muck with the tractor and trailer down to an allotment in town, on the way I had to pass the police depot along side the M6 motorway.

As I was loaded I did a rolling exit out of a road junction, but unfortunately a motorway patrol car was just coming down off the bridge, (they were just going for a tea break, and thought I had no brakes),
Follow the story here--
The Standard Fordson

This was drawn by the Standard Fordson

I remember as a kid of six or seven how we loved to have a ride on the empty
trailers back to the field to be loaded. On this occasion I had just missed my
chance for a ride and I was on my own, when I though I would run and catch up
and climb onto the back end of the wagon.

When I caught up with the outfit, I thought I could put my foot in the swinging rope and claw myself up the backend of the gormers and onto the trailer. But it did not turn out like that at all, having slipped with my grip I fell backwards to the ground, it was only a few inches off the ground, but fell. Trouble was one foot was still in a loop of rope and it started dragging me across the fields, ---read on.

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